Disciples making disciples

Disciples of Word, Sacrament and Mission, was the theme for this year’s diocesan Ministry Formation Conference, held Feb. 3 at Bishop Moore Catholic High School in Orlando. Ministry professionals, catechists and volunteers involved in all arenas of ministry – evangelization and catechesis, sacramental preparation, pastoral care, liturgical, family, and more – came to this multicultural, multilingual event. This year more than 500 participants from more than 70 parishes and schools attended.

Through humor and personal anecdotes, keynote speaker, Father Ivan Olmo, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Rockledge stressed, “If you’re going to be missionary disciples, you have to know who you are… it’s personal. It’s intimate. Who are you really?” He noted, “If you don’t know who you are, you don’t know where you’re going and you don’t know what you’re doing. You are beloved children of God,” he added. “You need to understand that. You need to believe it. You need to live that.”

Father Olmo encouraged all to emphasize seven things in their prayer life to help become effective disciples –to be open, attentive, present, available, receptive, vulnerable and responsive to what God is saying. He also spoke of falling in love with Jesus in the Eucharist and how crucial it is to ministry. “Everything you do in ministry, stems from the Eucharist,” he said. “If you are available to God at Mass, you are going to have a personal and intimate encounter with Christ.” It is through that encounter that the faithful are equipped to become missionary disciples. Sadly, sharing that story is often fraught with apprehension.

Heidi Peckham’s workshop on The Anxious Disciple addressed those insecurities. She said evangelizers must begin by letting go of expectations of others and themselves and truly acknowledge their “sins and graces.” She explained that when people know themselves, they can approach evangelization from a more authentic place.

Kathleen Maiorano, a parishioner from Most Precious Blood Parish in Oviedo said the conference helped her. “It gave you the opportunity to learn how to change your behavior, and be more positive and welcoming to the people in your life.”

Dennis Johnson, Jr., Secretary for Laity, Family, and Life praised everyone involved, “this was an ‘all-hands-on-deck affair’ as we rescheduled the event due to last fall’s hurricane. People’s attitude and spirit is amazing, their commitment to the Lord and to the Church inspiring.”

All are invited to engage in the theme of Disciples of Word, Sacrament, and Mission in these upcoming diocesan events: Mass for Marriage (02/10/2018), Men’s Conference (02/17/2018), and the Eucharistic Congress (03/17/2018). For more information on these events, visit the calendar page on www.orlandodiocese.org

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic – February 5, 2018